Minister Seeks Reconciliation, While Government Seeks to Block Judgement

TORONTO, February 7, 2017— “Today, in an unprecedented legal maneuver, the Government of Canada sought to block the court from delivering a verdict on liability next week in the Ontario Sixties Scoop case.  Canada’s request to suspend judgement comes just one week before the court is expected to deliver its decision and eight years, almost to the day, after the case was launched.

“Canada’s lawyers are citing Minister Carolyn Bennett’s recent announcement regarding a pan-Canadian settlement as justification for this request. We fail to comprehend that reasoning.  Negotiations for a pan-Canadian settlement of all Sixties Scoop claims can certainly take place concurrently or following the court’s decision on liability.  Indeed, we look forward to working with the Minister and bringing forward meaningful recommendations on how to move forward together in the spirit of reconciliation.

“The government’s actions today, however, fly in the face of that spirit. This truly astonishing action leaves us with three questions:

  • Does the government truly think it fair and reasonable to ask Sixties Scoop survivors to abandon their quest for justice just days before the court makes its decision?
  • Just days ago government lawyers were arguing that Canada bears no responsibility for protecting the cultural identities of Indigenous children. Does the government maintain this position?
  • The government has been spending time and resources litigating this case for close to a decade. Why is it suddenly trying to block the court from delivering its judgement?

“Ontario Sixties Scoop survivors  ought not to be re-traumatized by a government that says one thing and does another. Is it because they are First Nations’ people that the government believes they are not entitled to a decision from the Courts of Justice?  Is this the legacy of compassion this government intends for Canadians?”

The Sixties Scoop Case by the Numbers

Litigation Negotiation
·         8:  # of years the case has been in process. Initial pleadings in the case were issued February 9, 2009

·         8: # of times the government has attempted to have the case thrown out

·         16+: # of times that the federal government has attempted to have the case adjourned

·         9+: # of lawyers that the federal government has had working on this case

·         3 # of lawyers Plaintiff has had working on the case

·         20,000: # of pages of documentary evidence the government has submitted to support its arguments against the claim in the last 18 months

·         $2 millon+: amount that this has cost Canadian taxpayers for the costs of the government’s opposition to the case over the last 8 years

·         $166,500:  total amount awarded to the Plaintiff, to date, to cover their costs. Canada was ordered to pay these costs

·         66: # of pages of legal argument submitted by the Crown to argue, for the 8th time, that the case should be thrown out. These were submitted after the Minister made her February 1, 2017 statement about a “dark chapter” in Canadian history and wanting to end the litigation.

·         0: # times the government has made a proposal for resolution

 

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Canada is 150 years old – Canada’s only Sixties Scoop certified class action is 8 years old and:

Decision Thursday, February 16th 

The Honourable Justice Edward Belobaba of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has advised that the target date for the release of His Honour’s decision is Thursday, February 16, 2017.

At stake is Plaintiff Marcia Martel (Brown’s) motion for a summary judgement determination that Canada breached its lawful duties to indigenous children. Also at stake is Canada’s 8th request for her action to be dismissed.

Whatever the Minister said in her press release, Canada’s lawyers continue to litigate. Their latest litigation step was to discredit the evidence of 95-year-old former Chief Wilmer Nadjiwon of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nations.

The Minister’s lawyers did this, even after they walked away from the opportunity to cross-examine the former Chief. Special arrangements, approved by the Court, had been made for him to be questioned via video-conferencing because of his frail health. The former Chief was prepared for his evidence to be tested as to its truth.

If you would like to read the February 1st, 2017 Media Release of Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, click here.

If you would like to read what her lawyers said when they argued in the Superior Court of Justice on February 2nd, to throw out the evidence of former Chief Nadjiwon and former Band Councillor Jones, click here.

If you would like to read what the Plaintiff’s lawyers argued in response to Canada’s argument on February 2nd, click here.

In Canada, only the Ontario case has been certified.

Only the Ontario case is on the eve of a judge’s determination to decide whether what took place was something that, in law, should not have taken place. Canada’s lawyers have argued over the last 8 years that what took place was not lawfully wrong, and 8 times – yes, 8 times – they have asked for it to be thrown out or dismissed.

That is how we understand the matter, and that is why we respectfully do not understand how the Minister can say what she said on February 1st, 2017 in the House of Commons.

We ask all of our sisters and brothers to join with us, to stand firm and not give up the opportunity of a judicial decision that holds our government responsible for the wrong that was done. Do not compromise on your entitlement to an honest ruling from the Courts.

Meegwetch

– Ontario Sixties Scoop Steering Committee

 

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Saying one thing and doing another

The Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett announced today in the House that Canada is initiating settlement discussions across Canada with the survivors of the Sixties Scoop, and wants to put an end to the litigation.

What settlement solution is Minister Bennett really proposing when her lawyers in Ontario – the only jurisdiction where a class action proceeding has been certified and is actively before the Court – are arguing that Canada never had a duty, and does not have any duty to protect the cultural identity of First Nations’ children?

The decision in the Ontario may help answer the question as to whether Canada has such a duty. In the meantime, we hope claimants across the country will see the Minister’s statement, on the eve of the judge’s release of a decision in the 8 years of litigation in Ontario for what it is, saying one thing and doing another.

Stay tuned: we will follow-up with the Minister’s media release and words from the Plaintiff, Marcia Martel (Brown) and our lead counsel, Jeffery Wilson.

– Ontario Sixties Scoop Steering Committee

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Important Update Re: Jan 30 Media Advisory

Canada concedes that consulting Indigenous leaders could have prevented harm, but still argues “no accountability” for Sixties Scoop suffering

January 31, 2017

The Thursday hearing in the trial to determine Canada’s liability for harm endured by Sixties Scoop survivors has been cancelled at the last minute at the Crown’s request. On January 30th, the Department of Justice stated it has no new evidence and no intention of cross-examining the plaintiff’s witnesses. The evidence presented by the plaintiff has been accepted and therefore no trial is necessary.

The hearing, scheduled for February 2, was to focus on the question of what advice Indigenous leaders would have given to mitigate harm experienced by Sixties Scoop survivors. The Government has presented no evidence that it fulfilled its duty to consult with Indigenous leaders in implementing child welfare programs on reserve. Further, it has argued that even if Canada had consulted, this would not have mitigated harm suffered by Sixties Scoop survivors.

Affidavits submitted by former Chief, Wilmer Nadjiwon (Chippewas Nawash First Nations) and Howard Jones, former Band Councillor (Chippewas Nawash First Nations) outline a  list of recommendations they would have offered to the Government to help protect children’s cultural identities.  These included:

  • Placing the children in close geographic proximity to the bands to facilitate continued cultural connection;
  • Allowing bands to offer support and cultural education to white foster and adoptive parents; and
  • Allowing bands to offer children continued cultural interactions in order to expose them to their traditional languages and practices.

The Government of Canada maintains that it cannot be held responsible for the harm suffered by individual Sixties Scoop Survivors. The Crown will submit legal arguments in writing by noon on Thursday.  Judge Belobaba is expected to issue his decision on the government’s liability by the end of February; a precise date is expected next week.

Quotes:

“It is clear from the Government’s request that it has found no evidence to dispute the conclusion that consultation would have made a difference for these children. The government had the power to protect their cultural identity and it chose not to. Yet it continues to excuse itself from any responsibility for the harm those children suffered.”Jeffrey Wilson, lead attorney for the Claimants
“This was my last chance, before I die, to fight for our lost children and to help them get the justice they deserve. Our voices have gone unheard for too long.”Chief Wilmer Nadjiwon

The argument that consulting wouldn’t have made a difference was ridiculous from the outset. And I don’t blame the government for not wanting to cross-examine a 95-year-old Chief on such a ludicrous question. But is this about optics or justice? Because if it is about justice, the real question is why the government refuses to right the wrongs of the past. How can we move forward if we cannot heal?” – Marcia Brown Martel, lead claimant and Chief, Beaverhouse First Nation

Interviews
For media inquiries please call Jessie at 416-859-8250.

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Mini-hearing not proceeding on February 2nd in Toronto

Canada’s lawyers announce they will not be cross-examining the former Chief and Councillor, and that they have no further archival documents to challenge the Plaintiff’s case, even though they said differently before, and thus, the mini-hearing is not required.

Wisdom from our elders. Lineage, ancestral wisdom of truth beyond that of colonial government archives.

Thank you former Chief Wilmer Nadjiwon and former Band Councillor Howard Jones of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nations.

Written submissions are to be made this week and judge will subsequently announce date for release of decision. We will post date of decision as soon as we are advised.

– Ontario Sixties Scoop Steering Committee

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The latest on the mini-hearing:

Thursday, February 2nd, 10:00 a.m.
Courtroom 4-2 at the Court House 361 University Avenue, Toronto

Canada demands opportunity to cross-examine 95-year-old former Chief Wilmer Nadjiwon of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nations. The former Chief is so frail that he will be cross-examined via video-conferencing from the Cape Croker Lands.

Canada apparently wants to challenge what the former Honourable Chief remembers as advice or ideas the Band would have given to the federal Crown if it had done what it said it would do and consulted with his Nation before implementing provincial child welfare law. Also testifying will be former Band Councillor Howard Jones, of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nations.

Come early to pass through security and get a seat.

– Ontario Sixties Scoop Steering Committee

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Mini-hearing: February 2, 2017

Update: hearing will be held in courtroom 4-2 at 361 University Ave.

To view the invitation in PDF, click here.

Honourary Invitation

The Ontario Sixties Scoop Steering Committee cordially invites you to join Chief Marcia Martel (Brown) of the Beaverhouse First Nation, and former Chief Wilmer Nadjiwon and former Band Councillor Howard Jones, both of the Chippewas Nawash First Nation, as they pay homage to the law of Canada at the final day of the summary judgment hearing before the Honourable Justice Edward Belobaba of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Brown v Canada, now in its 8th year of court litigation, is the only case on the matter of an historic anomaly to do with an alleged 16,000 culturally displaced children and the only case of its kind to have been certified as a class proceeding. It is also the first and only case in the western law world to raise an issue about a democratic state and whether what it did raises questions about the cultural genocide of its First Nations’ peoples. Canada’s counsel has argued in Court, after all, that whatever duty the federal Crown had to its First Nations, it did not ever include the protection of their cultural identity.

Reception follows the hearing on Thursday, February 2nd, 2017 which is to commence at 10:00 a.m. at 361 University Avenue in Toronto. Guests are urged to come early to pass through security and secure a seat. The day will bring about live evidence, testimony of each of former Chief Nadjiwon and Band Councillor, Howard Jones. Chief Nadjiwon is 95 years old. His daughter very much worries about his health and her father’s decision to give evidence. We are honoured with his presence and that of former Band Councillor, Howard Jones.

If you would like to receive a copy of the affidavit which is their evidence, click here for that of Chief Nadjiwon and here for that of Howard Jones, or send us a request at thesixtiesscoopclaim@gmail.com.

As the lawyer said in Court on August 23, 2016, and said it in our language, we must make sure this does not ever happen again to any people’s children.

Meegwetch

Ontario Sixties Scoop Steering Committee

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